By Greta Wodele
National Journal's Technology Daily
October 21, 2005
The Homeland Security Department on Oct. 1 created a new post for a
cyber-security czar -- a post that the technology industry and
Congress repeatedly have urged for two years -- but has yet to
nominate a candidate for the job.
An announcement in the coming days would coincide with the House and
the department recognizing October as National Cyber Security
Awareness month. Lawmakers on Monday approved a House resolution
making that designation.
House Homeland Security Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection
and Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lungren, R-Calif., said in
a hearing Tuesday that the vote the day before indicated the
government's efforts on cyber security. He said officials voting
mid-month on the resolution showed how the government is trying to
play catch-up on protecting the country from a cyber attack.
"In an age where hackers and terrorists are using advanced
technologies to attack our cyber infrastructure at an alarming rate,"
said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., "the Department of Homeland
Security is moving at dial-up speed in naming an assistant secretary
for cyber security."
The department announced late last month that it would work with key
industry partners to "spread the word" throughout October about online
safety by providing tips and resources for protecting computers.
While industry groups are pleased with the government's efforts this
month, several representatives and lawmakers are anxious for the
appointment of the cyber-security assistant secretary that Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff first proposed in July.
"Anytime the term 'acting' is in your title, you lose the weight and
authority necessary to truly do a job right," Rep. Bill Pascrell,
D-N.J., said of Andy Purdy, the acting director of the National Cyber
Security Division. "The fact that there is still no full-time entity
within the department shows a glaring lack of foresight from this
Industry representatives share Pascrell's concerns, but they also said
the department wanted to wait to nominate a candidate until after
Congress approved Homeland Security's fiscal 2006 spending. The bill,
which lawmakers approved earlier this month and President Bush signed
into law Tuesday, put the official stamp on Chertoff's proposal to
elevate the director of the cyber-security division to assistant
"I hope a name is forthcoming soon," said Paul Kurtz, executive
director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. "It's high time the
person is named."
Now that lawmakers have given Chertoff their blessing, Information
Technology Association of America President Harris Miller said he
hopes the secretary "has some people waiting in the wings." Adam
Falkoff, executive director of the Republican Technology Council, said
Purdy "has the skills to navigate through the bureaucracy of the
Under Chertoff's plans, the cyber-security division will be removed
from the old unit on information analysis and infrastructure
protection, and the assistant secretary will be charged with
protecting cyber and telecommunications systems.
The assistant secretary will have a $93 million budget next year for
cyber exercises and work with private and public entities. The
cyber-security division also is responsible for coordinating and
overseeing cyber-security activities across the government.
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